Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It seemed like the perfect time to say...

...boy, I'm so glad the Giants traded Jeremy Accardo for Shea Hillenbrand. That move worked out oh, so well for the Giants.

Good job, Brian Sabean. Sticking with Armando Benitez was indeed the correct move, as we all know traded youth for veteran know-how and savvy works each and every time.

With that, I'll balance things out a bit -- I must admit that overall Randy Winn has done more than I thought him capable of. I was fairly sure his run at the end of 2005 was an absolute flash-in-the-pan, albeit one I thoroughly enjoyed watching. His 2006 wasn't very good, and although his overall numbers were below his career averages, they certainly seemed more indicative of the type of player Winn is than the gaudy 1.071 OPS he ran up in the 58 games he played in 2005, but...

He seems to have found a comfortable middle ground this season -- he's competent offensively, and although I still cringe at the lack of walks, I have confidence that he is a legitimate threat when he comes to bat. That's more than I thought the Giants would get when they picked him up.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ah, memories...

Last night made it a lot easier to not hate Ryan Klesko.

It's a sports hate, mind you, not real life hate like I have for the Dodgers, the Dallas Cowboys, and wasps (the honey bee is fine, and serves a purpose, but what do wasps do other than scare the living crap out of most of us?). I've heard good things from a couple of reliable sources telling me Klesko is a very nice guy -- he just had a bad beginning with me, with with long tenures on two teams I don't like (Braves, Padres), and testosterone leaking from his pores every time he strikes out.

However, he's a Giant, so I've made an attempt to at least meander down the path to indifference. It's been difficult to this point, since he's been doing a convincing job at showing he's not worth any more than Mark Sweeney, yet getting paid another 800k.

But while last night's home run was pretty much useless (other than making sure there was no save opportunity for 'Mando...yay) as Noah Lowry shut down the Astros mostly by himself, it was symbolic that Klesko can still hit one.

Well, check that, symbolic he can still hit them in a live game -- he apparently hits a bunch of home runs in batting practice.

But what about Lowry? What's the differences between this year and last year? Not much, in a sense -- his k's per 9 innings is much the same (4.75 in 2006 vs. 4.92 this season), and his k/bb ratio is actually much worse (1.5 last year, 1.18 this year).

But, the differences? Huge -- he's all of a sudden become an extreme ground ball pitcher as opposed to a somewhat flyball pitcher. He's running an almost 2-to-1 ground ball to fly ball ratio this year (1.80 g/f), whereas three of his first four seasons saw him allow more fly balls than ground balls.

What's all that really mean? Well, part of my worry about Lowry last season was his large dropoff in his strikeouts. There's nothing wrong with being a flyball pitcher, but it's difficult to be successful over a long period of time allowing more flyballs while not striking out a lot of hitters, because nowadays that tends to mean you're going to allow more extra-base hits overall -- and last season Lowry allowed his highest SLG % (.452) in his career by quite a bit.

So...this season, a lot more groundballs than flyballs, an absolutely huge drop in SLG % against (.305...are you kidding?), and double plays are getting turned behind Lowry at almost twice the rate of 2006 (10 this year so far in 60 innings pitched...he had only 14 last year in 159 innings pitched last year).

Hey, it's working.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

You reap what you...were supposed to have reaped at first, only didn't...until later...whatever

Okay, now this is a bit more balanced. Unfortunate and sad, but the Law of Averages is sitting there with a smirk on his mug.

Eight game winning streak complete with great pitching, little offense, and a lot of one and two-run victories. Two-game losing streak, complete with little offense, and two one-run losses.

Live by the narrow victory, die by the narrow defeat.

Not to beat a dead horse, but at least the horse can't fight back. It's almost like the horse is tempting me to get a few licks in while I can.

These last two losses to the Diamondbacks are basically the same games that the Giants had on their eight-game winning streak, the only difference being the armor of the pitching staff cracked slightly -- and the offense, meanwhile, keeps putting out it's same meager output of 2-5 runs each game.

Okay, enough doom and gloom, I'm sure you get my point (er, in case you don't, the point something to help the offense sooner rather than later).

The interesting thing about the two losses is that the Giants had plenty of power -- four home runs hit between the two games -- but three of the four were solo shots by Mark Sweeney, Randy Winn, and Pedro Feliz, while the other one was only one run better, the two-run shot hit by Barry Bonds on Saturday. The moral to the story is...

...that the Giants are poor in two of the worst categories to be poor in when paired together: walks and home runs. They've been bad in both all season up until the last two games, where a bit of a power surge with the four home runs brought the Giants out from the cellar area in the NL in team home runs.

Only problem was, the Giants 2nd to last position in OBP has held strong, so four home runs in two games netted the team only five runs...and when both of those games are lost by one run, you can see how and why it's bad that the Giants are poor in those particular team statistics.

The pitching staff seems to be as advertised, at least, although I have my doubts about Runs Ortiz holding up over the course of the season. As a 5th starter, he technically just has to keep his team in the game in most of his starts and he's done his job. We'll see, but in the meantime it is of some comfort to know that there's a good chance the Giants will have a chance to win most of the games they play.

Hey, whaddya know? Ended things with a positive comment!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Daniel, meet Crow. Crow, Daniel.

I hear Crow tastes ever so slightly better when it's lightly fried in olive oil with some garlic, green onions and mushrooms.

Ah, nevermind -- Crow tastes like chicken anyway.

After reeling off seven straight wins and vaulting themselves right back into the NL West chase on the strength of Barry Bonds Bombs and some superb starting pitching, it's pretty easy to just slap the fat and ride the wave in..., let me opt for a more PC analogy.

It's easy to get caught up in the wins, and easy to think that the starters are indeed this good and Bonds can indeed keep this pace up to an NL West title after that many wins in a row. But more the fools us, if we believe it will keep up like this.

Not that the Giants can't make a run at the title -- when a team wins seven in a row with pitching like this, they're capable of making a run here and there, and I'm still not convinced there is a good team in the NL West. But the offense is still a problem, a problem that, for now, Barry is hiding behind his bat.

The Giants have outscored their opponents during this run 30-17, which calculates out to 4.3-2.4 in terms of runs scored/game vs. runs against/game.

The cold, hard truths are these -- no team in this era will win with any consistency at 4.3 runs per game. Period. And no team in this era will go through a season allowing anywhere near as low as 2.4 runs per game.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays scored the fewest runs in all of baseball last year at a 4.25 runs/game clip, and had MLB's worst record. The Padres had the worst runs per game average of any winning team last season at 4.5/game. The Astros also had a winning record with a 4.53/game average...but they were all of two games over .500.

Let's look at the Padres pitching -- at only 4.2 runs per game allowed, they were by far the least amount of runs allowed per game, the next closest being the Astros at 4.44/game.

Can we just agree that the Padres are an anomaly mostly because of their ballpark?

Meanwhile, the Giants last year scored 'em at 4.6/game, and allowed them at 4.87/game. This year overall that ratio is 3.63/3.58.

Does that make any sense, really? That the Giants can do better than last season while taking a one run per game hit from their offense because, coincidentally, their pitching staff happens to allow 1.3 less runs per game? A pitching staff that, I'll remind you, has added Barry Zito and Russ Ortiz, and that's pretty much it.

Nah, it doesn't compute -- the Giants are running a sample-size run right now, because their offense is still poor but their pitching has been spectacular. We'll all obviously enjoy the run for as long as it lasts (especially when beating the Dodgers is any part of it), but expecting it to last...well, you'd be giving your money right back to the casino.

The offense (or, more aptly, Bonds) still needs significant help if this team expects to stay in contention, because the pitching staff cannot keep this up. Sooner or later they'll drop just a bit...let's say, at least to the 4.2 runs allowed/game mark, at which point scoring 3.63 runs a game will see the Giants lose quite a few games. Well, being honest, we have to swing things the other way a bit, and assume the Giants will score more than 3.63 runs/game eventually...oh, wait, they're doing that right now, at that scintillating 4.3 runs/game clip.

Is that where you'd want your team to be at? Trying to win every day with an offense that scores it at 4.3/game with a pitching staff that allows 4.2/game? That sounds a lot like asking for a .500 record to me, and I think we can all agree that despite my thoughts that the NL West still isn't any good, the team that wins the division will have better than a .500 record. So, again, the offense still needs significant help.

But for now, for my predictions of Doom and Gloom being so poorly timed, I shall sit down and have myself a nice helping of Crow. Shaken, not stirred.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


The only thing I'm hoping to get out of this year at this point, with the Giants running a 2.2 runs/game average, is that the Giants find a new general manager. Brian Sabean has been so exposed over the last couple of years -- he's basically rode Barry Bonds throughout his tenure here, and made two blindingly brilliant moves to acquire Jeff Kent and Jason Schmidt.

I'm just tired of seeing Sabean's teams -- he seems incapable of learning from his mistakes, and keeps making the same tired moves to fill roster spots -- over the hill veterans whose best years are behind them, yet who somehow command top dollar here because of "savvy" and "experience" and other things that just do not win baseball games day in and day out.

Talent wins, savvy helps.

I never thought I'd see the day where Royals baseball would be more palatable than Giants baseball, but that day has arrived. The Royals will lose a lot of games this year, too, but they'll be young and exciting while they do it. The Giants will lose a lot of games being old and tired, emulating the team-building methods of their GM.

Well, enough rant for today -- I'm going to keep tuning in because the Giants are an addiction for me, but it's going to feel a bit like poison until some changes are made. I'll hope for sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Praise Be to the Law of Averages

Just acknowledging the win -- it's there, it happened, and we'll hope for more. We'll also hope that Armando Benitez finds his way onto another team...but a couple of side notes to the aforementioned 6-5 squeaker:

  • The Royals won, too, with Alex Gordon, a.k.a Oh-My-Garsh-Please-Save-Our-Franchise v.2007 belting his first homer, and Zack Greinke, a.k.a Oh-My-Garsh-Please-Save-Our-Franchise v.2006 pitching the way he's capable of against a pretty potent Toronto Blue Jay lineup. Yay.
  • And in Milwaukee, the attendance was 19,031. Unremarkable, you say? Perhaps, but if you knew that those fans weren't there to see the Brewers but an Indians-Angels game that was only announced 24 hours before the game was scheduled to play, you might change your tune. Let us collectively tip our hats to the people of Milwaukee, who apparently sat right down and got right behind Cleveland, rooting and doing slo-motion waves. Oh, and the Indians won, too.

So yesterday was special, and today...well, isn't yesterday. But Noah Lowry is starting today, and Russ Ortiz isn't, so letteth hopeth springeth eternal...eth.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Did I Say Rough? I Meant Painful...

I wonder how long it'll take the Giants this year to realize that what they've put together isn't going to work...and had no chance. Wagers, anyone?

The only team in the league that has scored less than the Giants is a team that's played four less games, and there's only one team with a worse run differential than the Giants.

The Giants are not only starting the season losing six of their first seven, but they're doing it within the division, so it's even more damaging than normal.

Bright side? Well, starting pitching. Barry Zito, while of course not worth anywhere near his salary, isn't going to continue to be this bad. Sooner or later Brian Sabean will realize that it wasn't Ramon Ortiz but RUSS Ortiz that he signed, and then he'll do the right thing and cut him loose (nevermind that Ramon Ortiz isn't any good either, but at least he wouldn't walk a hitter in batting practice, which Russ seems very capable of doing). Sabes will then make a sensible move, like going ahead and throwing that 5th starter spot to Kevin Correia or Brad Hennessey, neither of whom would be great but both of whom would be loads better than Runs, Russ Ortiz.

But we've danced that dance before, haven't we? Sometimes Sabean could teach stubborn lessons to rocks...but even the rocks would have given the 5th starter job to one of those two already, and especially not in favor of a guy who had an ERA the size of Vermont and failed to even luck into a single win last year...

...ahem, nevermind. If I wanted to rant about Russ, I should've done it when the team acquired him. Crying, spilled milk, etc.

Dark Side? I'm trying to figure out a scenario in which the Giants don't hit the least amount of home runs in the National League by a large amount, and failing miserably. I'm going on record as saying I wouldn't be surprised if the Giants hit less than 141 home runs as a team this season, which would mean they'd be worse than the worst team in the NL last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

To supplement lack of power usually means you have to do it with team speed, but the Giants had the distinction last season of stealing the 2nd least amount of bases last year, only beating the Atlanta Braves -- who didn't need the stolen bases, as they hit the most home runs in the NL in 2006.

Here's to hoping Dave Roberts not only can duplicate his number of steals last year (49), but can also duplicate his number of unsuccessful steals (6) last season as well. The Giants will need every, single one.

The comparison to the '88 Baltimore Orioles start isn't apt, of course, as the Orioles went 21 games before winning one. The Giants have won a game already, and there's no way they'll end up at 1-21, right?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

This is going to be...rough

This game will be, in the next hour or so, my first full Giants game watched so far in this young season.

I'm seeing about what I expected -- the Giants are a team which has to have a few things go right to win. They can't afford poor pitching performances, they can't afford missed opportunities to score, and they can't afford...well, any mistakes, period.

I truly believe this is the swan song not only for Barry Bonds, but for Brian Sabean. If you look at his acquisitions, trades, etc. over the years, he continuously fails to address team needs on any consistent basis. His moves this offseason were, to me, a collection of head scratchers -- from the acquisition of Ryan Klesko, three years removed from doing anything significant and, were he actually still a power bat, a superfluous left-handed one at that, to the re-acquisition of Russ Ortiz, who is the exact kind of pitcher the Giants don't need -- one that walks a lot of batters. Oh, and he's three years removed from being worth anything, too.

I'll go on record to say that the re-acquisition of Rich Aurilia is a big hit with me -- it's not really going to do much to help the team, but if I've got to see a stinker of a season, I'd rather see it with players I like.

So, it's now 9-1 Dodgers, and I get to watch the Dodgers washed-up players mop the floor with the Giants' washed-up players (Luis Gonzalez just went deep for the 2nd time...urk...just threw up in my mouth a little...but I'm okay).

Sometimes you just start out cold, but let's stop time for a sec a look at the NL West standings. They're here for your edification (and as I'm typing this, Pedro Feliz goes deep with a man on just to spite me), and it'll show you not only will the Giants have the worst record and be 3 1/2 games back after only 6 games, but look at the runs scored/runs allowed columns...every other team in the division is starting with a good run differential except for the Dodgers and Giants...and of course the Dodgers are wiping their tookus using the Giants as their Charmin right now.

In short, everything is going wrong at the moment...heck, even Aurilia's return is tainted to me, because he's back but C.C. Sabathia is still the spokesman for Toyota of Vallejo -- something that was one of Richie's long standing gigs during his first tour of duty (he even did the spots for them for a season after he was gone).

...and boy, while he's from my hometown and we even know a lot of the same people, C.C. can't act his way out of a wet, thin paper sack. Even if the sack already had a hole in it, and was kinda half-open at the top, and was kinda torn on one side, too...even then, no. He couldn't do it.

A sad beginning to things, all in all. A running theme for this team in the last few years is that they've won just enough games to avoid being put into the Reconstruction category, but losing a ton of games early might be the only thing that can wake the front office out of its stupor. Blowing this thing up might not be the worst thing in the long run.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Yeah. Um. It's Me...Really!

This is an "I'm not dead" post. The lack of time that I've had in the last bunch of months to write anything that would've meant something to somebody has been a bit disheartening, but I have made the mental committment to myself to get back to writing, and back on track...

...only problem is, I have so little real idea as to what's going on with the team that I'm going to have to take a bit of time to catch up. Oh, sure, I'm aware of the big headline news stories, players acquired, players let go, etc., but I haven't any clue what any of it means because I haven't even attempted to think about it.

Well, I'm gonna try that out here in the next week or so, then get to typing stuff.

So until that time, for the few of you that still may check in occasionally, thanks, and no...I'm not dead.